Installing a starscape ceiling

fiber-optic-star-ceiling

[Mike Galloway] set out to install a lighted starscape in the ceiling of the baby room. We remember first coming across this type of thing at a Planet Hollywood restaurant at least 10 years ago. We’ve always wondered how difficult this type of thing is to install.

This setup involves an LED based illuminator and bundles of fiber optics. [Mike] first mounted the illuminator in the corner of the room at ceiling level and ran the bundles of fiber optics up into the attic. He then used a cordless dremel to drill 1/16″ holes, one for each fiber in the bundle. This translates to a lot of holes! Once everything was in place, he filled the holes with glue to hold the fibers in place, and snipped off the excess from the room-side using a fingernail clipper. We’ve embedded his video of the system in action after the break.

This may take some time, but it seems easy enough and now we know how these ceilings work.

Comments

  1. Bonkers says:

    This would be a lot easier if installing a fine mesh or some other perforated material instead of a standard ceiling.

  2. monkeyslayer56 says:

    hehe i like the fast twinkle
    cool starts btw

  3. Tod says:

    This is SWEET! I always wanted to do something like this in my bedroom as a teen. At one time I came up with the idea of using the light in the center of the room as a sun and building a moving, to-scale model of the solar system’s planets revolving around it. Unfortunately, after some calculations I realized I would need a 34′ x 34′ bedroom to make it work.

    I settled for less. But THIS would have been a cool addition to my “not-to-scale” model.

  4. Aaron says:

    It would be cool to sync the moon to the moon outside. Great project!

  5. Gosh says:

    Absolutely awesome! I’m doing this ASAP!

  6. Rune kyndal says:

    Cool..
    should have been the right patterns though..
    as seen on the sky outside on the kids birthday
    or something?..

    and the moon should follow the actual one too..

    cool anyway.
    ;)

  7. Ugly American says:

    Why not use a projector instead & tie it to the time of year?

  8. incognito53 says:

    no no no… not a light controller… laaasserrrss

  9. nate says:

    I’ve always wanted to do something like this, but instead of drilling holes and using fiber optics, I thought of using some sort of illuminated sheet on the ceiling, then mounting a perforated mask under it. He did an awesome job, but I’d want mine to be more realistic (different sized stars, for example, and an accurate layout).

    When I was a kid, I used to have those giant glow-in-the dark stars all over my ceiling. After I took them down, I noticed some spots on the ceiling still glowed, and it looked kind of like real- albeit dim- stars, since I’m near-sighted anyway.

  10. DanS says:

    I’ve installed (and torn apart and modified) a few commercial systems like this. Its just a light source with some fiber. Try putting a kaleidescope between the light and the fiber.

    Lasers are nice, but I wouldnt want a shark tank in my babys bedroom.

  11. Jeremy C says:

    Wow, I really like the moon phasing. This is pretty nice for the baby, but I would be a bit jealous of him.

  12. Gene says:

    If you had a drop ceiling you could make tiles for this. Use a laser cutter [service] to make accurate starscapes and reduce labor greatly.

  13. bt says:

    He did this by drilling through a popcorn ceiling. Never mess with a popcorn ceiling until you’ve had it tested for asbestos. Don’t paint it, drill it, sweep it, etc. If you’re house was built after the mid 80’s, you’r probably safe, but if it was build before that there may be significant amounts of asbestos in the popcorn material. At the very least, make sure you cover the floor fully with plastic and tape the edges to the wall, wear a dust mask that blocks fine particles, and wipe down any surface that may have picked up dust with a damp cloth. Do not use a vacuum to clean up. This just throws fibers into the air.

  14. anon says:

    @bt and remember only YOU can prevent forest fires…

  15. Mike says:

    Hey, author here =p

    1) The house was built in 1996 and is asbestos free.

    2) The stars *are* multiple sizes. 3 different sizes.

    3) (copied from another forum): I started out doing constellations, but I freaked out and stopped. I was downloading star-charts *to scale*… had leo in proper scale and distance from cancer and hydra (in sharpie dots) and started to drill & paste. After I had 5 stars in, I realized Regulas is a magnitude1 star and I put a tiny fiber in its place … so I pulled, reset it and started drawing out Gemini, but then fucked up in 3 spots so I threw in the towel. Now, you can kind of pick out ursa minor, but everything else is reaaaaally random. Oh, I did do Pleiades… that’s probably the only ‘scale’ item on the ceiling.

    4) Check out the instructable, most of the other questions are answered in that post.

  16. nate says:

    Ah, that’s cool. It’s kind of hard to tell the difference in sizes from the video; I just assumed you used the same fiber for all stars to make things easier. I guess I should read the Instructable. :P

    Good job!

  17. CH says:

    Couldn’t you set the fibres in something, then just sand the face?

  18. Mike says:

    @ch: not really sure what you are asking here :o

  19. M4CGYV3R says:

    You know they sell curtains like this right? I don’t think it was ever a secret how they work.

  20. Insteon says:

    That’s very cool – now if you just controlled them by Insteon it could be dimmed when you hit play on your movie – one step closer to perfection!

  21. svofski says:

    This is awesome, I envy the baby. Anyone who dreams of a starry ceiling and has no drop ceilings and/or time can just buy wallpaper with glow in the dark stars and use it on the ceiling. Not the same thing, of course, but pretty cool too.

  22. Rachel says:

    I made one for the drop ceiling in my computer room. I didn’t have any optical fibres, so I embedded 3mm LEDs directly in the tiles. Except for a few careless holes, they’re barely visible when off.

    http://spatulatzar.com/ceiling/

  23. napalm says:

    That kid has the coolest frickin room, I think I’m a bid jealous.

  24. Stever says:

    I just had one of these guys do mine inexpensively.

  25. Stever says:

    click on my name.

  26. MMM says:

    I clicked on it.. and I didn’t know David Hasselhov made starscape ceilings!

  27. Hi,
    It is so pretty. I appreciate of this site. I like so much. That’s very cool. Thank for sharing this type of information…

  28. vsnine says:

    Martin makes a color changing Fiber Illuminator for indoor and outdoor fiber optic installations:

    http://www.martin.com/product/product.asp?product=fibersourcecmy150

  29. candyman says:

    coooooooool…..

    This is my office project now :)

  30. Thaipo says:

    My mother had the same idea when I was a child, but went about it in a *much* simpler way.

    Either by mixing it into the paint, or rolling it on on top of the paint before it dried, she used little glitter-squares and had my whole ceiling and top 8″ of the walls in dark blue, glittering cover. The room had two large outside windows, so light was always coming in to shine on them, even if it was a small amount.

    After that, she had stenciled planets along the tops of the walls.

    Kinda makes me wish I had pictures of it before I moved :/

  31. james says:

    Where did you buy the fiber optics? What was the total cost of your install?

  32. XBox Hacker says:

    This is very cool, I will look more into this and see if I could put it in one of the rooms in my house.

  33. Asbestos is one hell of a health hazard that is why we have removed all asbestos based insulation in our homes.`;:

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